Mom ‘nagging’ her husband about car seat may have saved their baby’s life

It’s the moment every new mother dreads – when maternity leave ends, and it’s time to go back to work and leave your newly arrived bundle of joy in the hands of someone else. Even if that someone is family, it can cause a lot of anxiety.

Every instinct, every fiber in the mother’s being is crying out to not be separated from the baby – and she still knows she has to do it. It may be one of the hardest things a new mom has to face in early parenthood.

Rebecca Tafaro Boyer, a nurse by trade, finished her maternity leave and went back to work at the hospital. She was so anxious with how her baby son William was doing that she asked her husband to keep her updated.

When he texted her with one such update, he included a photo of the little guy sleeping in his car seat. Rebecca took one look at it and immediately knew something was wrong.

Women often wrestle with being perceived as “nagging,” “bossy” or “overbearing.” As a result, many choose to abstain from making any remarks, especially when it comes to the men in their lives. Compound that with the fact that she had been a mom for only three months, and was still learning the ropes, and you get a clear picture of what was going through her mind at the time.

Fighting that urge to keep quiet, Rebecca texted her husband right back to let him know. Exactly fifteen minutes passed before she became eternally grateful that she had. Read on to find out how one nagging wife’s vigilance may have saved her son’s life.

Going back to work

Rebecca Tafaro Boyer, a Registered Nurse at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, is one such mother. She lives in Nashville with her husband David and three-month-old son William. She too had just finished her maternity leave and went back to work at the hospital. As new moms often are, she was a little nervous about leaving her son behind with her husband, and therefore demanded he send her hourly updates on how the little guy was doing his first day away from mom.

An innocent update

True to his word, David dutifully texted his wife with regular updates. At 2:15pm, he sent her text to tell her they were both going to Walgreens. “Little man is out,” he wrote. “We are running errands today.” Just so Rebecca doesn’t get too worried, he enclosed a photo of William he snapped moments earlier, peacefully dozing off in his car seat. The proud mother looked at it with a beaming smile, which slowly faded away as she noticed something was wrong.

A nagging wife

She knew she was about to be a nagging wife, but she was compelled to say something. She immediately texted David back to let him know the car seat’s straps were too loose and the chest clip was too low. Knowing the person she married, she later said, she was certain he chuckled to himself, rolled his eyes and then… did as she told him. Satisfied that things were now okay, she went back to work. Minutes later, her phone rang. It was David.

‘Honey, we had a car wreck’

When Rebecca picked up, she heard her husband’s panicked voice on the other end. “Honey, we had a car wreck,” he exclaimed. The blood drained from her face in an instant, and her throat was dry. Her mind was racing – since her husband was calling her himself to tell her about the crash, he was more than likely not hurt too badly. But what about William? Her son wasn’t properly fastened in the last time she saw him. Did David really do as she asked him? Was her son okay?

The chronicle of the crash

David was driving just a few miles away from their home when a woman – who did not have a driver’s license, it was later discovered – pulled out into oncoming traffic, right in front of him. The new dad was going 50 miles an hour and didn’t have time to stop. Nevertheless, he slammed on the brakes but still collided with the woman’s car, completely smashing up the front of the family’s vehicle. The car was totaled. As for its occupants…

Damage report

David’s foot, it turned out, was broken in three places and he had three dislocated toes. He’s expected to make a full recovery. As for William… He was soundly asleep in the car seat. The crash gave him nothing more than a minor jolt, and he didn’t even wake up! Nevertheless, he was taken to the emergency ward of the local Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital as a precaution, where he was examined and given a clean bill of health. William was fine, and made time with the nurses to boot.

Reflecting back

Writing about her family’s ordeal on Facebook, Rebecca wasn’t afraid to take credit for swooping in to save the day, as moms often do. “The reason my family is at home sitting on the couch with a pair of crutches,” she wrote, “instead of down at the hospital is because of my annoying nagging mom voice.” Sure, she was heartbroken at the loss of her “beloved Volkswagen Jetta,” but was also deeply grateful for quite a few things. Chiefly among them? That her husband actually listens when she nags him!

Sending an important message

Kidding aside, Rebecca thought parents everywhere should use her family’s story, which only narrowly avoided ending in gut-wrenching tragedy, as a teaching tool. While her posts on the social media network are usually private, she wrote a public open letter to all mommies and daddies out there, sharing her story – and its lessons. And to anyone who might accuse her of being “overprotective,” Rebecca simply said they were all just happy that a broken car – and foot – was all they had to worry about that day.

Going viral

In fact, Rebecca changed her post’s settings to public in the first place because her friends asked her if they could share it with their own friends. It all exploded from there. To date, her post has received almost 16,500 likes and 3,000 comments. As for those aforementioned shares? Well, you might say word got out, as the post was shared more than 40,000 times by parents who wanted to spread the message as well.

All parents should know

Rebecca thankfully knew the rules regarding safely traveling with infants in cars, and wanted everyone else to know as well. She informed the world all infants should be facing the rear in the back seat until the age of at least two, and that they should be secured in a five-point harness in a car seat that doesn’t move more than an inch in any direction. Speaking of car seats, what became of the seat that performed so admirably? It was actually initially going to be thrown in the trash.

Waste not, want not? Not always

The car seat was three months old at the time of the accident – the same age as William, not coincidentally. And it went straight into the trash. Why would Rebecca and David do that to the seat that saved their son’s life? It wasn’t mangled in the crash, obviously. In fact, it was barely broken. The reason was simple: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that any seat involved in a moderate to severe accident where the car cannot be driven away from the scene immediately becomes defective.

A generous offer

When they realized the car seat needed replacing, David had no doubts in his mind. Not mincing words, he informed his wife that they were getting the exact same seat, because “that things did its job.” Happily, when several commenters tagged the makers of the seat in question – a company called Britax – its representatives reached out to Rebecca and offered to replace the old seat with a new one – completely free of charge! Little did the Tafaro Boyer family knew, but Britax was pretty highly recommended by a regal authority…

A royal endorsement

You may have heard of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine. Kate and William have three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, who was born in April of this year. When each of the young ones was born, they were carried out of St Mary’s Hospital in London… in a Britax car seat! As you might imagine, the Royal Family isn’t exactly strapped for cash, but when it came time to choose a seat they took one that costs £110 – or about $140.

A good deed

Rebecca and David were grateful for the offer, but their insurance company had already replaced their car seat with another, also manufactured by Britax. Not wanting to let it go to waste, Rebecca saw the chance to do some good. She asked Britax to donate the seat they wanted to give her to the Memphis-based Forrest Spence Fund, a nonprofit that helps families of children suffering from chronic or critical illnesses with their everyday needs. Thinking about the matter some more, they couldn’t just throw away the old one either…

Keeping it going

Instead of discarding the old, supposedly damaged car seat, Rebecca had another idea. While it couldn’t be used in cars again, that didn’t mean it couldn’t itself become an educational tool. She contacted Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, which originally treated William after the crash, and gave it to their NICU so it could be used to educate new parents on how to safely and properly secure their newborns. It seemed like it was working, as many parents were starting to pay this important matter more attention.

Kick-starting a conversation

According to Rebecca, moms have been tagging their husbands like crazy to show them the proper way to strap the little tykes in. She started a conversation that for some reason many parents were not having up until that point. Moreover, other parents have reached out to her, she revealed, when they realized that they – like David – have been improperly securing their children, and realized it thanks to her post. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming it’s not a big deal, but data clearly shows it is.

The numbers bear it out

The NHTSA has illustrated how one of the leading causes of death for children up to 13 years old are car accidents, while car seats have demonstrably saved lives. In 2015 alone, for example, they saved 250 children’s lives. However, in about 60 percent of the cases, those seats aren’t properly used. The flip side of the coin? Properly secured car seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent, Safe Kids Worldwide – a global nonprofit promoting child safety – reported.

Happy to have helped

That’s all Rebecca ever wanted, really. She never wrote the post with the intention of flaunting how much she knows, but rather to share that the incident happened, and that the proper care prevented something really bad from happening. Speaking directly to other parents, her message was loud and clear: “Take that extra 30 seconds every single time” to make sure the child is fastened correctly. Checking the car seat, she concluded, could end up saving their children’s lives.

Still learning herself

Despite dispensing some invaluable advice, Rebecca soon realized she herself had quite a lot left to learn about vehicle child safety. For instance, she didn’t know her insurance may reimburse the cost of replacing the car seat, or that the seat’s carry bar may need to be locked into a specific position to adequately protect the child. She was grateful for the pointers, however, and was quick to add them to her original post so everyone may know them as well.

The paradox at the heart of the matter

When you think about it, something glaring begins to emerge – it just doesn’t make sense. Parents are programmed to care for their children above all else. It’s instilled in us by society from the moment we’re old enough to understand it. Parents routinely perform heroic feats to save their children from danger. So why – in situations like David’s – do so many people just assume their children are safe? It may have something to do with our unshakeable belief in technology, but we mustn’t forget the most important safeguard – ourselves.

Media frenzy

The story of Rebecca, David and William made headlines not only in the United States, but the world over. It was covered in the websites of such publications as the Washington Post and Daily Mail, not to mention the websites for People and Today. There was something about the story of motherly instincts overcoming social anxiety that reeled people in, and kept them on the edge of their seats right up to the tale’s happy – and educational – end.

Not anonymous anymore

Rebecca wasn’t – and still isn’t – a celebrity. She’s not a famous actress or a singer. She’s simply a nurse, and a mom, who got over the fear of being perceived as nagging to tell her husband something important. It was precisely for that reason that her story so resonated with people, as it touched a raw nerve on something that was largely overlooked. The only downside of her tale going viral? “My husband says, ‘I’m never going to live this down, am I?’” she laughed.